Information regarding the American Water Spaniel’s history is not well documented, however, since the 18th century, this breed has been found in farms and forests where they are being put to good use.

American Water Spaniel dogs with trees background

These dogs were developed in North America, Specifically in the Great Lakes area, somewhere in the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Their ancestors include several other breeds such as the Irish and English Water Spaniels, Curly Coated Retriever, native Indian dogs, and the Poodle.

Dr. Fred J. Pfeifer had a major role in promoting the American Water Spaniel into a standard breed.

After few accomplishments as well as setting up a breed club, his relentless efforts led to the recognition of the breed by the United Kennel Club, which was then followed by the American Kennel Club in1940.

The American Water Spaniel was considered a rare breed even though they are the state dog of Wisconsin. In 1990, there were only about 240 dogs registered by the AKC.

Traits and Behavior

The American Water Spaniel can point out squirrels on the trees, making this breed a great hunting dog. This breed is as good as the Labrador when it comes to retrieving dead birds and other small animals during hunting activities.

American Water Spaniel dog in the water

As long as it gets regular physical and mental exercise, it can be one of the most affectionate and loving household pets.

Aside from their keen sense, they are also an excellent swimmer. Using the tail as a rudder, they can swim very well in swamps, lakes and even rivers.

Some of these dogs might become timid or have a shy-type personality. Early socialization will boost their self-confidence.

Other several factors are affecting the dog’s temperament which includes genetic factors and training.

The American Water Spaniel is energetic, well-prepared, affable, and willing to comply with requests and orders from its master, as long as it is provided with a just and honest upbringing. If exposed to unfair and improper treatment, the American Water Spaniel can become very stubborn and manipulative.

Pet Care and Diseases

The breed is known to suffer from various health problems such as:

  • Hip or elbow dysplasia
  • Growth hormone-responsive Dermatitis
  • Pattern Baldness (Saddle Alopecia)
  • Cataracts
  • Retinal Dysplasia
  • Allergies (food, bedding, flea powder, shampoo and other chemicals)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypothyroidism

A careful regular check-up will help you spot potential health problems early before it gets worse.

American Water Spaniel close up

If the American Water Spaniel is provided with enough workout and play sessions, it can do well even in less spacious living settings such as an apartment or condominium.

However, it will be better if the dog can go to rural areas away from the crowded city where it can run along with wide spaces.

This dog has a bad habit of chewing random things or possessions in the house especially if it is left alone.

Crate training (a process of teaching a pet to accept a dog crate or cage as a familiar and safe location) will be very beneficial to address this annoying habit.

When it comes to grooming, trim the coat or shave the ears to neaten the dog’s look. Don’t bathe the dog more often than what is needed. The coat has an oily protective layer that is water-resistant to safeguard your dog from harsh weather.

So it is recommended to bathe it only when it’s dirty or smelly. Brush the coat at least twice a week to keep it in good shape.


Males and females are 15 to 18 inches tall. Females tend to be slightly less big than males, weighing only 25 to 40 pounds while males weighing 35 to 45 pounds.

American Water Spaniel sitting on the grass

The curly coat has the color of either liver, brown or chocolate. Little white markings on the toes and chest are permissible. The head is moderately long.

The long and wide set of hanging ears appear to be layered with heavy curls. The neck, tail and rear of the dog are well-covered with hair.

General Information

The American Water Spaniel has an average life span of 10-12 years. It can have a litter size of 4-6 puppies. Other names include AWS, American Brown Spaniel and American Brown Water Spaniel.

Breed Club

Visit this dog club website dedicated to American Water Spaniels. Click this link: https://www.americanwaterspanielclub.org/